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Summary

Background  The prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its possible impact on the severity of liver histological lesions have not been studied prospectively in chronic liver diseases.

Aim  To investigate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with chronic viral hepatitis or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, and to determine its associations with histological severity.

Methods  We prospectively included 317 patients (hepatitis B e antigen-negative chronic hepatitis B: 95, chronic hepatitis C: 176, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis: 46) with liver biopsy. Metabolic syndrome was defined using the Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. Histological lesions were evaluated according to Ishak’s or Brunt’s classification.

Results  Metabolic syndrome was present in 10.4% of patients being significantly more prevalent in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis than in chronic viral hepatitis (41.3% vs. 5.1%, P < 0.001). In chronic viral hepatitis, cirrhosis (stages 5–6) was independently associated with increasing age, higher aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase levels, severe necroinflammation and metabolic syndrome (P = 0.016). In non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, severe fibrosis (stages 3–4) was independently associated with severe necroinflammation and metabolic syndrome (P = 0.033). Presence of metabolic syndrome was not associated with presence or severity of steatosis both in chronic viral hepatitis and in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Conclusion  Metabolic syndrome is more prevalent in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis than in chronic viral hepatitis; it is associated independently with more severe fibrosis but not with the severity of steatosis, both in chronic viral hepatitis and in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.